It’s pretty obvious to tell what kind of audience Netmarble is looking for when a Call of Duty 4 screenshot is seen on the frontpage. The similarities between District 187 and Call of Duty are blatantly obvious with features such as chest-high walls, close quarters combat, and high powered rifles. Although, it’s easily forgivable since District 187 plays almost nothing like the game it’s trying to replicate.
Cowardice in the Face of the Enemy
If anything, playing Call of Duty has taught me that it’s okay to wander around the map looking for people to shoot. My initial impressions of District 187 led to me to think, “this is just going to be another Call of Duty clone.” I was happily mistaken when I started playing District 187. The habits I learned playing Call of Duty needed to be checked at the front door. What caused my former habits to fail me was the lack of a sprint key. I suppose that’s a good thing, though. People can’t exactly run away from their inevitable death when they can’t, well, run. It was around every corner where I found two realities. Either I met my maker, or earned a hard-fought kill. I struggle during every encounter whereas in Call of Duty, I would just run back a little bit, toss a flashbang and take out whomever I saw.
It would be much easier to wait for people to show up, rather than be forced to struggle for kills by looking for other players, wouldn’t it? That would mean the lack of a sprint key would encourage more camping, and inevitably slow down the pacing of the game. Fortunately, that doesn’t really happen much in District 187. The players in every game move almost constantly, looking for the next person to take down. Because of this constant movement, there is also constant action. So how exactly does Netmarble keep the players moving? The maps are the key to this constant movement. The maps are designed to be small to make it possible for players to easily access every portion. With maps as small as these, it’s almost impossible to camp as it’s incredibly easy to walk from point A to B.
It seems a little weird that a developer trying to make an entrance into popular genre would release a game without sprinting, perks, and flashbangs. Surely, District 187 must be a terrible game because it doesn’t have any of these features. Honestly, that’s what makes District 187 fun. It’s just the player and his rifle. The guns are quite effective; killing a person takes around three well-placed shots in the center of mass. That doesn’t mean scoring a kill is easy, though. Most of the guns kick back pretty hard and drives the gun upward fairly quickly. For these reasons, it’s better to hit the crouch key and tap the fire button than to hold it down as soon as someone pops up. There’s skill in being able to control your shots and take enemies down swiftly and accurately while being restricted in movement. While I understand most first person shooters favor precision and accuracy over spraying and praying, District 187 is different in that it rewards players for being able to act quick and move around the map efficiently.
Same Old Formula
It seems to me that almost every free-to-play first person shooter uses peer-to-peer networking. As long as I don’t start teleporting or dying because my connection lagged before my shots hit, I’m totally fine with this kind of networking. Games like Alliance of Valiant Arms and Blacklight: Retribution did very well in reducing lag and keeping the servers running smoothly. Every time I pull up the scoreboard in District 187, it will tell me I have ⅖ bars in the “Ping” column. District 187 doesn’t seem to lag a whole lot since I don’t get teleported backwards, but I do end up seeing problems with hit detection. There have been multiple occasions where I knew that I should be dead after taking a one-hit-kill sniper shot. During several other moments, I witnessed myself dying after I had unloaded an entire magazine into another player, only to have him kill me in three shots.
While trying to mimic other games in the first person shooter genre, District 187 does things a little differently than most mainstream games. What surprised me was the lack of an option to use premium currency to buy in-game equipment, something that’s normally part of every free-to-play game. All of the items seen in-game are available from the start as long as you’ve gained enough in-game money to buy them. The game does not end up becoming “Pay to Win” because of this. In terms of gameplay, District 187 has made some interesting choices that make it stand out from other games.
The lack of sprint has slowed down the pace of the game, but has also created an environment that keeps me on my toes. Its small maps, gunplay, and lack of sprint all contribute to the intense gameplay it provides. The gunplay, especially, rewards players for their precision and accuracy. While, different from most shooters, District 187 makes the same mistakes almost every free-to-play game makes. The peer-to-peer networking brings down the quality of the game. There is no feeling worse than knowing someone got lucky because the hits didn’t register. Even when I played in the North American servers, I encountered delays and hit detection issues. If they manage to fix the peer-to-peer networking, District 187 is a solid shooter that is worth checking out.